by Jeremy Moule
Last night, after several hours of discussion, county legislators passed a 2013 budget that was unaltered from County Executive Maggie Brooks' proposal.
In short: the property tax rate will remain at $8.99 per $1,000 assessed value, suburban residents will pay a new chargeback to cover the cost of county snowplowing contracts, and another new chargeback will fund indigent burial assistance, an arrangement which is expected to disproportionately affect the city. The $1.2 billion plan passed along party lines, with the 18 Republican legislators voting for it, and the 11 Democratic legislators voting against it.
Democrats proposed a handful of amendments — all of which failed or were rejected on procedural grounds — the majority of which were meant to add funding for indigent burial assistance or runaway and homeless youth services. For example, one amendment would have transferred money from a reserve account into the indigent burial assistance line. That would have allowed the county to increase the size of the burial assistance grant, said Democratic Leader Carrie Andrews, who introduced the amendment. Advocates for the poor have said that the current $1,250 isn't enough to pay for a dignified burial and that many families are forced into cremating their loved ones.
Another amendment would have directed hotel and motel tax money away from a non-profit sporting event promotions group and boosted funding for a runaway and homeless youth program.